Popular Science Monthly/Volume 2/February 1873/Antipodes and Perioeci

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ABOUT few geographical positions are there more mistakes made by intelligent people than the situation of the antipodes and the periœci. It has been commonly taught in the schools, at least in New England, that the antipodes of the Eastern States, or of dwellers near parallel 40, are in China, and that the antipodes of Boston are in Peking. Of course, this error is not made by the best instructors, but it is often made, and that without correction, in the presence of the "honorable committee." Editors, too, are often as much at fault as teachers, in speaking of antipodal places. Thus, after the earthquake at Lone Pine, California, and that which destroyed a part of the ancient city of Antioch, the New York World published an article on these phenomena, from the pen of a correspondent, entitled "The Antipodes shaking." The editor of the World corrects its correspondent, who supposes that Lone Pine and Antioch are antipodal, and says: "A point immediately under Antioch is in the Pacific Ocean, about half-way between San Francisco and the Sandwich Islands." These errors were copied by other papers.

The word antipodes is of Greek origin, from ἀντί, against, and ποῦς, a foot, and means literally, with feet opposite. Hence the Latin word antipodes, which is plural, and as a pure Latin plural should be pronounced as in the original, or in four syllables, an-tip-o-des. But, as the English word antipode is used, the plural of this may be formed regularly in three syllables. This pronunciation is sanctioned by Dr. Webster, and may ultimately prevail. At present, however, the best scholars give the division and the accent of the pure Latin plural.

The word literally signifies, those who have their feet against each other, or, those whose feet point toward each other; that is, those whose feet are diametrically opposite. As applied to geography, it means, the dwellers at the opposite extremities of the diameter of the earth.

The Periœci, or periecians, are often mistaken for the antipodes. The periœci are the inhabitants on the opposite side of the globe, on the same parallel of latitude. Hence, when people say that the antipodes of the Eastern States are in China, they mean the periœci.

Two antipodal parts of the earth have the same number of degrees of latitude, one north and the other south, unless one of these points is on the equator

Two antipodal points must be on one and the same meridional circle, separated from each other by half the circumference.

Being on one and the same meridional circle, they may differ in longitude 180°, with the exception of the poles themselves, which have no longitude.

And being separated from each other by half the circumference, they must be equidistant from the equator in opposite directions.

The longitude of two antipodal points, if east and west longitude is used, must together make up 180°, or 12 hours, one east, and the other west. The antipodes of a point in 40° north latitude and 60° east longitude are in 40° south latitude and 120° west longitude. The antipodes of a place in the eastern part of the United States, situated on parallel 40° north latitude, and on the meridian marked 7°, must be on the same parallel south latitude, and on that meridian which, added to 7°, will make up 180°, or 173°, which would be in the South Indian Ocean, a point between St. Paul's Island and Van Diemen's Land. This point would be antipodal to Boston or New York.

The following principal cities and places in the world are antipodal

London Antipodes Island, southeast of New Zealand.
New York South Indian Ocean.
Lima Siam.
Nanking Buenos Ayres.
Quito Sumatra.
Bermudas Swan River.
Azores Botany Bay.

Antipodal places have the same climate, with all of the seasons, days, and nights, completely reversed. When it is noon in London, it is midnight at Antipodes Island; and the noon of the longest day at the Bermudas is midnight of the shortest day at Swan River. When the sun is rising at New York, it is setting on the South Indian Ocean.

Antipodes Island, a small strip of land in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of New Zealand, is so called because it is the nearest inhabitable point to the antipodes of Greenwich, latitude 49° 32' south, longitude 178° 42' east.

We said that the seasons at the antipodes were reversed. Take, for example, New Zealand, which is nearly antipodal to England. New Zealand has one of the finest climates in the world. The summer is a little longer and warmer than in England, the atmosphere more moist, and fogs are frequent. Spring begins in September, summer in December, autumn in April, and winter in June. January and February are the warmest months of the year, while July is the coldest. The flowers bloom in January, and the snow falls in June.

So, in a figurative sense, antipodes means opposite. As Shakespeare says, or makes one of his characters to say, in the play:

"Thou art as opposite to every good,
As the antipodes are unto us."